We will call him "Metta World Peace" until further notice, even if Los Angeles Superior Court has yet to recognize his hope for a name change. And we will also recognize that the soon-to-be former Ron Artest(notes) will not play in Finland next year or even this summer, assuming that there will be an NBA lockout. Oh, we're sure he wants to. We know World Peace would play the game for free regardless of his current, pre-lockout gig with the Lakers or any other team.
But the Finnish team? It won't pay, nor play him. Because it fears the wrath of David Stern, which inspires the wrath of NBA influence which leads to the wrath that hits FIBA where it counts which would preclude someone like World Peace from playing international basketball. Even if LeBron James(notes) decided to jump and work for an international team during the lockout, it wouldn't be worth it for the team in regards to its standing with FIBA, and by extension the NBA. The NBA-inspired fallout just wouldn't be worth it.
"Finland's top league Korisliiga will witness some serious NBA talent in September 2011, when Los Angeles Lakers forward/multipersonality Ron Artest will join league newcomer LoKoKo Loimaa.
"The 31-year old Artest has three years left in his Lakers contract, but that doesn't seem to bother LoKoKo sports director Aleksi Valavuori, who backs up the rumor in Tuesday's Ilta-Sanomat newspaper.
"We have sorted things out and I can happily confirm that Artest will arrive in Finland," Valavuori states in the Ilta-Sanomat interview.
First off, BallinEurope? Thank you for keeping the semi-prominent graphic of the bearded man smoking a cigarette while he fights for a rebound. We at BDL don't condone it, cigarettes cost an awful lot of money, but we think it's funny.
After that? Nah. Metta might want to, but World Peace won't get a contract from anything other than a rogue team that doesn't value its future.
The most prominent player that jumped into international play during the last extended lockout in 1998-99 was top NBA draft pick Michael Olowokandi, who signed with an Italian team during the lockout mainly because he was not under NBA contract at the time, as will be the case for each of the players taken in last week's draft. There will be several draftees or free agents that could possibly jump to international gigs while this NBA mess sorts itself out, but players like Artest just won't threaten a voided contract for a shot at a few weeks overseas.
(Also, I was just re-reminded that Olowokandi was 23 when he was drafted first overall in June of 1998. Not that I was a fan back then, but holy lord did we miss the boat on that guy.)
Players like Artest, already under contract, won't have the same options as their drafted and/or free-agent brethren. Sure, it'll be collusion, but it hardly matters when things are technically unofficial. I don't much agree with any of David Stern's more heavy-handed leanings, but impressing on international teams that he indirectly helps support through FIBA and Olympic basketball to not sign under-contract NBA players is far from the worst thing he's ever done. Stern has become an unfortunate tool for the sort of owner that we all despise at this point, but he's well within his rights to unofficially lean on FIBA-branded teams not to pilfer his players with what would honestly be hardly legal contracts.
So, Metta World Peace? Try to act the groundbreaker, again. Just don't expect that team in Finland, or anywhere else, to follow through on giving you a gig to help you with the summertime blues.
That said, Metta, if you do want something to occupy your time? Hundreds of couples will fight, this summer, as they attempt to set up tents while on summer vacation. Do you mind helping us, and saving us from saying things we don't mean?
Thanks, World Peace.